European violet-willow (Eng), sauce alpino, sarga (Spa), salze dafnoide (Cat).
DID YOU KNOW...? This willow is one of the first plants that will stabilise loose and stony glacial soils.
Shrub or tree that can reach 14 m in height. The branches are a little hairy and whitish or greyish when young, seeming to be covered with wax. When mature they are hairless, and green, reddish or chestnut in colour. The leaves are deciduous, alternate, 4-10 cm long and 2.5 cm wide, similar to those of Salix alba. They vary from lanceolate to oblong in shape, and are sharply pointed. When young they are a little hairy, but adult leaves are hairless, somewhat leathery, dark green and shiny on the upper side, and a matt blue-green colour on the underside, with a prominent midrib. The margin is finely serrated and the leaf stalk barely reaches 1 cm in length. The flowers appear in spring and are borne on long filaments known as catkins. The fruits are capsules that open when ripe to release seeds wrapped in a cottony material that helps them be dispersed by the wind.
This tree is very important from an ecological point of view because it contributes to the stabilisation of loose earth and glacial moraines in high mountain areas, stabilising slopes, unstable soils and river banks. It forms groves in depressions with moist sandy soils or fine gravel. It is found naturally between altitudes of 1600 and 2000 m.
This species ranges from Scandinavia to southern Europe, with the exception of the Balkan Peninsula. On the Iberian Peninsula it is very rare and only found in the Pyrenees.